Started in 1991, Nandan GSE Pvt. Ltd is 28 years young today with a team of more than 150 people across 3 factories in Mumbai from where they deliver solutions all over India and export as well.
For almost three decades they have been successfully designing and manufacturing airport equipment, ground support equipment, Defence, car parking and material handling systems. These are all hydraulic lifting systems that are custom designed with a mission to improve the customer’s productivity, performance, and safety. They have create many first in india solutions like theme park rides, bridge inspection units, scissor lifts of 40 ton capacity, high scissor lifts upto 17 m high, missile lifts, bullet proof trucks, etc.
Mr. Raghunandan Jagdish, CEO and Director, Nandan GSE,
A graduate of Texas A&M University, Raghunandan Jagdish is as comfortable with designing cutting edge solutions for customers as he is with a strategy for productivity enhancement. After joining the business at a young age of 23, he worked up the ranks from all the departments and is today commanding the respect of the employees, vendors and customers alike.
Mr. Nandan, in a conversation with Business Connect Magazine enlightens us about his journey and how does it feel to serve the primary entities like ground handlers, flight kitchens, airlines, DRDOs, Army, Air Force, Navy, and a number of PSUs like L&T, and finally anybody who would require their services in terms of hydraulic goods lift, scissor lifts, customized vehicles, etc.
Business Connect: How do you keep up with the changing trends of the market?
Mr. Nandan: Today we live in the age of disruptions and they are happening at a much faster pace than it was happening earlier. Earlier people used to follow a business model that would live for a bare minimum of 30-40 years, but now, changes take place in as early as 4-5 years. So as a business we are there to remain nimble, whatever trends were there earlier have changed, everything is automated now. So we try to predict what disruptions are going to happen in the market and try to stay ahead of the curve.
Business Connect: Have you infused technology smoothly into your business?
Mr. Nandan: Yes, we have, we are always on a lookout to see what’s happening on a breakthrough level, and not just in India but globally. So that we take pointers from the same because there are a few things that are very centric to India but may be different globally, so for their peculiar problems we always come up with a solution. We have full fledged cloud based ERP wnr CRM as well as our equipment are maintained using a state of the art CMMS (computerized maintenance management system). We are now working on the IOT and Digital 4.0 technologies.
Business Connect: What do you think about the competition in your field?
Mr. Nandan: Competition is always good if it is ethically right. Those days are gone when you were a monopoly, I don’t believe there are any more businesses that can flaunt a monopoly. Maximum there will be two big fishes in the pond at least, besides the government would not be in favor of mergers either because then that would be against the competitive principles of the business.
Competition can always compete on price but they can never compete on quality because the price is what you pay and value is what you get. And once the customers go out there and explore, they understand the value of our brand better. We always feel that the sweetness of low price lasts much lesser than the bitterness of bad quality. A lot of clients come back to us when they have “experienced” the difference. And it challenges us to come out with more features, better quality, and sophisticated product and services.
Business Connect: With zero monopolies in the market, why would the client choose you over others?
Mr. Nandan: The foremost thing is the selection of products and services we offer is unmatched. And surely for a few products, we do have competitors in the market but there is no one in the market that will offer you everything that we do, which is something that we know for a fact. We have a very collaborative consulting approach that we consider for selling, we don’t do it conventionally. We believe in giving value to the customer, besides if at any point we feel that we are not apt for the job, we do not hesitate in referring them to someone who can do the job better with better value. Also, I believe a lot in word of mouth, referrals, and testimonials. We deliver elegant solutions to custom problems.
Business Connect: How did it all start for you?
Mr. Nandan: We began as a one-man show from my father, Mr JC Kumar in 1991. He bagan without any “godfathers or capital” and worked up the brand of Nandan based on his hard work. I left to pursue my post graduation in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M University in the USA in 2001. By then we were about 20 people in the organization. But primarily it was him who did EVERYTHING.
In 2003, after I came back to India, I set up processes, hired a team, expanded the factory locations. We have ensured there is constant learning, growth, and training of our members and hence the attrition rate is very low for us. Also our leaders have been organically growing up the ranks. A young intern who joined us back then is today my plant head. Also we have a retired Colonel from the Indian Army who heads our Defence vertical. We have a right mix of experience and young blood. Generally I hire for attitude and train for skill.
Business Connect: How much do you rely on R&D for the growth of your business?
Mr. Nandan: R&D in the conventional sense where you have lab coats guys is not something that happens at our end but learning about technology and understanding what is happening in the market, what all is going to be introduce is constant. We are already working on certain levels of technology to comprehend that would work or not. So a lot of trial and error sessions are happening, not purely for the purpose of R&D but because I foresee the trends and believe this would work in the coming future. Within the design team 10% of activities are geared towards R&D
Business Connect: Started by your father, do you remember the kind of struggles he faced?
Mr. Nandan: Of course, I do. My father was an accidental entrepreneur. The company he was working for 18 years shut down abruptly in 1988. While he had many offers, he decided to do something of his own and he took a small place on rent in Mumbai and that’s where he began his journey. With no investors, or godfathers, I can say he is truly a “self-made man”. He has had his share of struggles in terms of paying interests, arranging capital, payments etc. This helps me also remain rooted hence i have vivid memories of the stress he went through. This also is a reason why I go out of my way today to mentor young entrepreneurs and also share my learning in the community.
Business Connect: What does the future hold for the company?
Mr. Nandan: We are looking forward to good growth in the coming years. Because of the government spending, then the ‘Make in India’ approach from the Defence, there is a lot of interest that we have been able to generate worldwide. Also, India is growing, so we are in a good place right now, there is a lot of stability and growth in the market right now. We are also working on areas of Car parking, Logistics, Electric vehicles etc which are all mass market problems we intend to solve. Our mantra has been to improve our customers productivity, performance and safety.
Business Connect: How are you giving back to society (CSR activities)?
Mr. Nandan: That is one thing very close to us – education. We believe it is fundamentally everyone’s right, but unfortunately, that does not happen. So we support a lot of children from the backward community for education, we provide them with books, etc. We also are associated with a lot of NGOs and trusts to ensure that the resources are reaching the right place for food and old age and orphanages and schools.
Business Connect: What kind of changes do you feel have come for entrepreneurs today from where you started?
Mr. Nandan: Yes, the ecosystem today is much more open and technology has played a boon in all this. Because I remember earlier how difficult the smallest of things like getting a loan or registering your property was, but now the generation has it very easy. But the sad part is that a lot of these startups aren’t exposed to failures, they’ll eventually burn out if the maturity is not there. Hence mentorship is important for them.
Apart from work Mr. Nandan is a nature enthusiast, he likes to cycle his way to fitness and attend seminars and workshops. He reads extensively (he says this year he targets to read 50 books and maybe even publish one) . He believes that as an entrepreneur the journey is very lonely, so whatever time he gets, he prefers to spend it with his family and a few close friends.
“With the same mindset, we cannot go into global thought. First what needs to change is the mindset and belief system that we can do. Being core to the mission is important so that we can embrace opportunities. There is lots of scope, but we need to look up into the horizon for it as well as near our footstep. Looking at either place all the time will not help. Let’s Make in India and deliver worldwide”,
– Raghunandan Jagdish
This article & interview were published in Business Connect. https://businessconnectindia.in/lounge-interviews/nandan-gse/